Pope Francis launched this Saturday a severe criticism of France on his second day of visiting the city of Marseille. Yesterday he gave a speech with a message in favor of immigration and invited Europe to welcome illegal immigrants who cross the Mediterranean and integrate them, this Saturday he put it more finely. The Supreme Pontiff has criticized the assimilation model that France follows with immigrants, considering that “it does not take into account the differences, is rigid in its paradigmsmakes the idea prevail over reality” and also “compromises the future, increasing distances, causing ghettos, hostility and intolerance.”
He said this just a few minutes after being received by the president, Emmanuel Macron, and shortly before meeting with him. In just one sentence, in which he has not explicitly cited France but which has been forceful, the Supreme Pontiff has brought to light the cracks in the country’s integration model, where, for example, religious signs are prohibited in schools. The same one where citizens of immigrant origin (the majority French born in the country but whose parents or grandparents emigrated from the former French colonies) have been grouped for decades in the peripheral neighborhoods of the cities, the so-called suburb. The ghettos to which the Pope referred.
France considers that people who arrive from abroad must adapt to the laws of the country that welcomes them. Furthermore, the value of secularism prevails, which defends that religion should not interfere in the functioning of society. For this reason, religious signs are not allowed in schools, for example. It is a scheme opposite to that of the United Kingdom, which follows an integration model where links with countries of origin are allowed. Muslim students can wear a veil to classes.
The Pope’s words come when France is in the middle of the debate on secularism and its limits, especially after the French Government has banned the abaya, the typical tunic of some Muslim countries, in schools. He considers that it goes against this principle, which is one of the pillars of the Republic. In France there is 10% of the Muslim population.
“It is true that it is not easy to integrate, but the main criterion cannot be the maintenance of one’s well-being,” said Francisco, who highlighted: “Integration is painful, but clairvoyant“His words are also a denunciation of the discourse of the French far-right, which has long raised the specter of fear and even criticizes the Government for being too lax when it comes to regulating flows.